One of the surpassing oddities of the MPAA is that a film like The Wolf of Wall Street, which features wall-to-wall nudity, drug use, and aggressively explicit language can end up with an “R” rating while a much more tame movie that simply strays by dropping two f-bombs and little else that’s objectionable can be categorized with the same rating. Such was case with this year’s Nebraska, much to the derision of many of the film’s fans, and Kevin Costner’s fictional-football-Moneyball-type movie Draft Day has just narrowly escaped the same boat.
Whereas Nebraska lost its appeal to be re-rated a “PG-13,” Draft Day has succeeded, and without, apparently, any changes to the cut of the movie. Neither the ratings board nor director Ivan Reitman has commented on exactly what content was initially deemed objectionable, but language is the likely culprit. As alluded to above, the MPAA looks more harshly upon the f-word than most other epithets, particularly when in carries sexual connotations. The comparison to Wolf of Wall Street, which barely managed to escape an “NC-17,” may be apt, as Draft Day trades high powered stock brokers for high powered NFL executives. The story, however, would appear to be a bit more redemptive, centering on a general manager’s (Coster) attempt to turn around a flailing Cleveland Browns franchise.
Studios tend to fight hard for a “PG-13” rating over an “R” due mainly to profitability. “PG-13” movies accounted for around 52% of all box office profits in 2013, and the rating is generally seen as a middle ground between films intended for adults and films which remain accessible to younger moviegoers. That said, the debate over what should and shouldn’t be “PG-13” has been raging for a while now, with the MPAA seeming to hold a double standard between films rated for language and sex and films rated for violence. A recent study showed that “PG-13” movies have been allowed to depict dramatically more violence in recent years, even rivaling what’s typically shown in “R” movies, while sex and language still tend to face hard cutoffs.
Draft Day, at any rate, seems to have sidestepped these issues for the moment, and will be available to viewers of all ages when it debuts on April 11.